Pope Benedict XVI names Denver Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley bishop of Lincoln Diocese
September 14, 2012 - Pope Benedict XVI names Denver Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley bishop of Lincoln Diocese
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Denver Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley as the bishop of the Lincoln Diocese in Nebraska. The Holy See made the announcement today at noon Rome time.
Bishop Conley, 57, has served as auxiliary bishop of the Denver Archdiocese since 2008.
“I join with the clergy, religious, and faithful of the Archdiocese of Denver in offering Bishop Conley our warmest congratulations,” Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila said in a statement. “Bishop Conley is a man of deep prayer, keen intellect, warm heart, and fervent commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “
Bishop Conley was born on March 19, 1955, in Kansas City, Mo. He is the son of Betty and the late Carl Conley, longtime residents of Overland Park, Kan. He has one younger sister, Susan, who is married to Daniel Atkins and resides in Olathe, Kan. They have two children, Kyle and Kaitlyn. Bishop Conley is of Wea Indian descent.
A convert to the Catholic faith, Bishop Conley was ordained a priest of Wichita, Kan., in 1985. After earning a licentiate in moral theology from the Accademia Alfonsian, he spent 10 years as an official in the Congregation for Bishops in Rome. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Denver on April 10, 2008, and installed as bishop on May 30, 2008.
He served as apostolic administrator of Denver for 10 months after former Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput was installed to head the Philadelphia Archdiocese on Sept. 8, 2011, and before Archbishop Aquila was installed in Denver on July 18, 2012.
“I am honored, and humbled, by this appointment. There is nothing more important for a bishop than the care of souls,” Bishop Conley told the Denver Catholic Register. “God has called me to be the shepherd of souls in the Diocese of Lincoln. I know I need to rely on his grace for this great responsibility. … I am looking forward to getting to know Lincoln. My mission as bishop there will remain the same as it has in Denver: to help all people to encounter Jesus Christ, and to become holy, as God in heaven is holy.”
Bishop Conley will succeed Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, who at 77 has served two years past the age canon law says bishops may retire. Pope Benedict XVI has accepted Bishop Bruskewitz’s resignation, the Holy See announced this morning.
“The entire Diocese of Lincoln joins me in welcoming and congratulating Bishop Conley, telling him and everyone how flattered we are to have as our new spiritual shepherd such a distinguished and accomplished prelate,” Bishop Bruskewitz said in a statement. “Collectively, we thank almighty God for this precious and important gift which he has bestowed on us through the ministry of Christ’s vicar.”
Bishop Conley will be the ninth bishop of Lincoln.
The Lincoln Diocese is smaller than the Denver Archdiocese in both regional size and in population. Established Aug. 2, 1887, it covers 23,844 square miles in southern Nebraska and has a total population of 588,641 people, of which 96,625 are Catholic served by 134 parishes.
Denver became a diocese on Aug. 16, 1887, and an archdiocese on Nov. 15, 1941. The Denver Archdiocese covers 40,000 square miles in northern Colorado that is home to more than 3 million people, of which 550,000 are Catholic served by 142 parishes.
"During our years serving together, Bishop Conley was a wonderful brother and friend, completely devoted to the Church in Denver,” Archbishop Chaput said in a statement. “He's a man of warmth and intelligence, a great mentor of young adults, and equally at home in college forums and local parishes. He has a keen love for people and ideas, and a vivid zeal for the faith. He'll be very much missed by people in Denver, but he's the perfect man to shepherd the Church in Lincoln, and the people of Nebraska will love him."
Bishop Conley’s episcopal motto is the same as the great 19th-century English convert, Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, “cor ad cor loquitur,” which means “heart speaks to heart.”
His installation will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 20 in the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln.
“In the four years Bishop Conley has served as auxiliary bishop of Denver, he has become well-known for his commitment to the unborn, his enthusiasm for young people, and especially for the devotion with which he celebrates the Most Holy Eucharist,” Archbishop Aquila said in a statement. “He will serve the people of Lincoln with great enthusiasm, strong leadership, and with a deep love for Jesus Christ and the Church. The Archdiocese of Denver assures him of our prayers, and our continued hope for his success.”